The match in a tweet: Ferguson outshines Marsh with epic ton, sinking Scorchers and lifting Thunder to victory in one of the games of #BBL08
The score: Perth Scorchers 4-181 (Shaun Marsh 96 not out, Mitch Marsh 31) lost to Sydney Thunder 4-182 (Callum Ferguson 113 not out, Matthew Gilkes 51) by six wickets with four balls to spare.
The hero: It was going to take an extraordinary innings to trump Shaun Marsh's brilliant 96 and that's exactly what Callum Ferguson delivered, posting his maiden BBL century and second in T20 crickcet. So often the second fiddle to big hitters like Shane Watson, Jos Buttler or newbie Anton Devecich in the Thunder top-order, tonight Ferguson was the aggressor and it suited him to a tee. Trading style for brute force, Ferguson bashed sixes all over the Optus Stadium after arriving at the crease at 1-18. He blazed past 50, bringing up the milestone off 24 balls in a 13-ball, 37-run stretch to stun the parochial home crowd. The Scorchers looked like they'd fought their way back into the box seat when they took 3-13 late on, but Ferguson launched another mini-blitz - he pasted Jason Behnredorff for three consecutive boundaries, before upper-cutting Nathan Coulter-Nile for six to bring up a 49-ball hundred. With seven required off the final over, Ferguson delivered the knockout blows; his eighth six, this one over long off and then sealing victory with a leg bye. Undoubtedly, his was one of the best knocks in BBL history.
The supporting cast: It looked like it could be a long night for debutant keeper Matthew Gilkes when he shelled a simple chance off Shaun Marsh in the first over of the match, before being nutmegged by a slower ball and conceding four byes several overs later. But his nervy performance with the gloves was quickly forgotten as he took down a bowling attack renowned as one of the domestic T20 game's best. Opening the batting, the left-hander played the perfect foil to a rampaging Ferguson, crashing three sixes of his own as the duo put on 120 – the second highest partnership in the Thunder's history. When he finally departed for 51 from 38 balls, the required rate stood at a manageable eight with five overs to left.
The consolation act: Shaun Marsh's search for an elusive Big Bash century goes on but at the halfway mark of this match, it appeared he'd done enough to get the Scorchers a much-needed win. Admittedly, he had a bit of early fortune (more on that below) and boy, did he make the Thunder pay. After denting Daniel Sams' confidence with back-to-back sixes, Marsh dented Sams' leg when he pounded a straight drive straight into him in his follow through. A century looked on the cards when the left-hander went 6, 4, 6 off the first three balls of the final over to move to 95. It wasn't to be however, meaning Marsh's highest Big Bash score remains the unbeaten 99 he scored in BBL01.
The injury: Sams copped a brutal blow to his leg from the flashing blade of Shaun Marsh and while he had to leave to field late in the Thunder's bowling innings, the allrounder was able to bat, finishing unbeaten on zero off two balls.
The stat: A batting average of 53.07, strike-rate of 130.86, 1433 total runs and 14 half-centuries from 35 games. While he's missed plenty of matches due to international duty over the journey, Shaun Marsh never seems to miss out in the BBL. His career numbers paint a remarkable picture of consistency. Has there been a better batsman in the tournament's history?
The drops: It was a nightmare start to Gilkes' BBL career. The Thunder's debutant keeper fluffed the simplest of chances off Shaun Marsh's very first delivery off a dismayed Gurinder Sandhu, who'd enticed the edge with a full away-swinger. Marsh offered another chance on 19, with Sams dropping a tougher chance on the deep midwicket boundary. Gilkes however redeemed himself with a terrific debut knock, sparing the Thunder's blushes.
The dropped: He's a beloved member of the Scorchers and remains the BBL's all-time leading run scorer, but Michael Klinger's struggles this summer finally came to a head with the hosts confirming at the toss he'd been dropped. The prolific right-hander has nearly 2,000 runs in the competition but his most recent 115 runs this summer have come at just 12.77, with the Scorchers opting to blood youngster Nick Hobson instead against the Thunder. Klinger turned 38 last July and it remains to be seen what role he'll play for the rest of the BBL season.
The next stop: The Scorchers' season is in tatters with three wins from 10 games, with the possibility of the BBL's most successful club missing the top four for the first time ever becoming increasingly real. They have to wait just two days until their next match, against the Melbourne Renegades again at Optus Stadium. The Thunder also face the Renegades next, with the clash to be held at Marvel Stadium on Wednesday.